Does Relaxation Require a Special Drink?

By , SparkPeople Blogger

One of the top one hit wonder songs of the 1980's was Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The key words to the song were relax and don't do it. Those words also apply to the new line of beverages called relaxation drinks.

A new Wall Street Journal article outlines some scary truths about these new drinks that have not been clinically tested but have been touted to lower stress, anxiety and aid sleep. Since key ingredients range from plant extracts to natural human hormones, I thought it would be important to explain a little more about them before you decide if they are right for you.

While the UK, Japan, and France are also embracing the relaxation drink craze, the U.S. is the relaxation drink leader hosting dozens of brands. Drink names like Vacation in a Bottle, Mary Jane's Relaxation Soda, Dream Water, and Mini Chill entice people to try the drinks but care is necessary since marketing focus and study claims can be misleading.

Take for instance an ingredient in Mary Jane's soda called kava root that has scientific evidence for effectiveness in reducing anxiety. Documented kava success was in people with doctor-diagnosed anxiety not day-to-day stress. Therefore, if you are looking to reduce your "road rage" or to reduce anxiety for an airplane trip, you may not find significant benefit. If you have medical conditions, kava root may not be for you either. The Food and Drug Administration warned about kava root back in 2002 because it was linked with severe liver injury that for some people led to liver failure and transplantation. These links with liver injury came from dietary supplements and the company that produces Mary Jane's soda believes it uses a safer method but does suggest consumers limit intake.

Another drink, Dream Water, contains a hormone known as melatonin, the amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan, and the neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid. Although melatonin may assist sleep in healthy people, in January the FDA issued warnings that it has not been approved as a food additive although companies are marketing these drinks under the category of dietary supplements. Because these blurred lines exist which interfere with consumer safety, legislation has been introduced to regulate dietary supplements.

Instead of using questionable relaxation drinks that could put your health at risk and may provide over 150 calories and 45 grams of sugar, perhaps other relaxation options would be better. Try deep breathing or progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) to help you relax and release tension. If your work is stress filled, find easy ways to relax on the job that helps you find your center and does not require artificial drinks. When insomnia keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep, evaluate potential causes and alternative solutions that might help while also improving your health at the same time. Consider yoga and learning poses that help you rest better.

Have you heard of relaxation drinks before. Are these something you would consider or are other options for stress and relaxation things you would consider first?

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Good to know ! Report
I have heard of them but have never used them. Nothing helps me sleep even the meds that my doctor has me on right now. So I know that I would not spend money on something else like this. Thanks for the heads up!! Report
This is all new to me. I am with the others using sleepytime tea or chamoile tea works the best for me. We Americans are always wanting a quick fix. Thanks for the heads up. Report
Ridiculous!!! Caffeine free green tea, with chamomile, is all you need. And, if you've left enough room for an evening snack, cocoa will do the trick. A fool and his money will soon be parted; but Spark People are not fools! Report
Never heard of them!...A cup of hot tea is all I need! Report
I never heard of them. Report
I was not aware of these...but I am not interested either. I like to have a drink with my husband after work. I choose a low calorie drink that satisfies me and fits into my plan. Report
sitting on the swing on my back porch with a glass of wine or a hot cup of tea is the best relaxer for me!! Report
Never heard of them. I wouldn't try them without knowing my neurotransmitter levels and going from there. I don't know many people who've checked their neurotransmitter levels either. I have, and I still wouldn't take them ... I need to boost mine, not relax them! lol

I would be careful taking these supplements if you don't know your biochemistry and esp if you're on antidepressants and other meds. Report
I don't drink ANYTHING to relax me. I use the techniques I've been taught over the years. The only two things I CAN drink are water and diet coke...the real Coke brand. I drink 2-4 litres of water/day and I find it is enough. There is no need for a specific drink to relax anybody. There are practical and useful tools anybody can apply to their life to learn to relax without any supplements. It's just a matter of whether you want to take an easy road or use the tools that will last you a lifetime. Report
I've never heard of them before, but even if I had, I'm very skeptical about things like that and wouldn't want it. Report
I would never take a chance taking these drinks! Even taking herbal remedies can have interactions with each other. Go with safety and drink green tea or chamomile tea. Report
Never heard of them, wouldn't buy them. I rarely feel like a drink to help me relax. I'd reach for a cup of chamomile if I did...or a glass of wine - on a very rare occasion. Report
I've never heard of these, but wouldn't buy them (or energy drinks or vitamin water). Not only are they not interesting to me, they also typically cost WAY to much. Report
Never heard of it and like so many of the other viewers, I'll stick with my cup of green tea for relaxation. Report
I have never heard of this. I will stay with my unsweetned hot green tea Report
Never heard of them, wouldn't be interested anyway, since I don't buy into media hype, relax with meditation or exercise, and learned years ago that companies selling products want profit, not my best interests.

Glad to know about them, however, so I can advise students (often savvy, but equally often gullible). Report
Scary- people will try to sell anything!!! My sister told me a story about a guy selling his hookworms ! Nasty. Report
I tried one and it tasted vile. Didn't notice any relaxation either. I prefer rooibos tea which is non caffeinated, can be drunk hot or cold and tastes good and is cheap. Well it's cheap here in South Africa where it's grown Not sure about other countries. Report
No thanks. I would try hot tea, or perhaps soothing music, or deep breathing. I do nor think there is much benefit to these drinks. Report
No thanks .. Report
A good cup of tea is my relaxation drink! No extra additives or other junk. Report
haven't heard of these before. i can see why culturally they would be very marketable. we want easy, quick solutions...drink this to have energy, drink this to lose weight, drink this to relax. makes me sad to see that desire in myself and others. i'll pass on these drinks. Report
I've never heard of a relaxation drink Report
I have not heard of "relaxation drinks". However, I feel like a glass of iced tea, or water is a relaxation drink for me! Just taking the time to sit down and drink it relaxes me! Report
Just saw one of these relaxation drinks a few days ago. My nephew says that he and some friends have tried them and they didn't work. Of course they had spent all night playing video games and drinking surge and Red Bull. I avoid both relaxation and energy drinks and prefer to let my body regulate itself - with the help of exercise during the day or perhaps an occasional warm milk . I'm always a little cautious of these type of products and that haven't stood the test of time to see long term effects. Report
I have never heard of relaxation drinks nor would I ever drink them. But that is strictly my choice. I have enough issues without adding to them. Great article...thank you for the information. Report
I had never heard of these drinks before. I usually try to use natural means to relax such a breathing deeply, slowing down my pace, doing fewer things and using mindfulness as a daily tool to deal with any kind of situation. I don't believe in miracle drinks or products. I believe we have all we need within our body, minds and soul to solve problems. I also turn to social supports when I just can't come to terms with what bothers me. Report
I had never heard of relaxation drinks before this article. I prefer a cup of hot, herbal tea and a good book for my relaxation favorites. Report
I appreciate new information but I like the alternatives for relaxation, a little mediatation, deep breathing or scheduling an appointment for accupuncture. Report
I would not drink these things. There are safer ways to relax. Besides, these companies care far more about making money than about the health benefits of their products. Report
Wow! I've never heard of these relaxation drinks before. I don't think I'm inclined to try one. I'll stick with exercise as my means of getting restful sleep! Report
I'd never heard of relaxation drinks before reading this. I think I'll stick with a glass of wine! Report
I have heard of these before and cracked up because now we have energy drinks and then relaxation drinks. Personally, I like hot tea as a relaxation drink. I drink real tea but decaf and herbals are nice occasionally. There is nothing so calming as sitting back talking to friends or reading with a warm cup of tea. Definitely cheaper and though I put a little sugar in it still has less calories. Report
Nah, I wouldn't consider these...but give me a nice hot cup of milk and I am in lala land in minutes. Report
Can I still drink my Horlicks (Original) made with SS milk, I like that to go to bed on? Report
Shoot, all I need to calm me down in the evening is about 30 minutes of good cardio then give me one of my text books...knocks me right out! Report
I know people that drink kava kava that do just fine. They drank it in place of addition to coffee. I don't drink kava kava. However chamomile was used all through my divorce its fine and I have bad periods of insomnia so I drink organic nighty night tea which has been a blessing to me and approved by my doctor.

I never heard of the others you mentioned. I do think overindulgence in anything can cause negative reactions. Report
I have never seen "relaxation" drinks. Along with "pep-up" drinks I will never try them. Report
I have never seen a relaxation drink! Where are they sold? Report
I agree with others below that a nice warm cup of herbal tea or warm milk works for me. Report
never heard of them and hope I remember this article when I do see them! sounds like 90 miles of bad road! Report
Wow, this is news to me...I have often had a "relaxation drink" when I needed to relax. My beverage for that purpose is a nice cup of chamomile or Sleepytime tea. It helps me to settle down a bit, if I am stressed out. I cannot imagine going somewhere and buying a container of liquid "I don't know what" and then consuming it. I am worried about young people who think that there are things like this to quick fix anything. Since I haven't heard of them before, I am guessing that they aren't too popular with our local kids anyway. I am weary of having to protect my family from all of these sleazy things businesses do to make money. Grr-rr Report
i would never try the drinks, because you really dont' know what levels you are getting of the additives. As a diagnosed chronic insomniac though, I have to say personally GABA, 5HTP, and Melatonin have aided me in get more and restful sleep. I DID DISCUSS THE USE OF THESE SUPPLEMENTS WITH MY DOCTOR first!!! Talk to your DR if your stress levels are off the chart or you have sleep issues. Report
Never heard of this ,, try no,, why give me a crochet hook or knitting needles and tv on about half to an hour later I am completely relax Report
Thanks for info. I will be esp. careful of what I bring to the house for grandkids. Report
Never heard of them, won't use them. The only drink I use to relax is a glass of wine. It's sad though that now we have a drink for everything, a drink to give you energy, now a drink to help you relax. Before these were around we did just fine! why can't people just rely on natural ways to deal with situations? The foods I eat help me feel good & give me energy (and I stay away from sweetners to do that). I find a cup of decaf tea, very relaxing, as well as hot cocoa and yes, as I mentioned, a glass of wine (more than a couple actually has the reverse effect & alcohol can cause sleep problems). Report
I had never heard of relaxation drinks before I read this. I think they sound absolutely ridiculous, personally. I try praying, meditation, yoga, a warm bath with a cup of tea, etc. to help me relax and all of these work great! Report
Dream Water sounds like a deadly combination. What happens if you fall asleep in the water? You drown! Report
Ironic... people are too busy to "relax" the normal way, so gulp down a useless (at best) beverage. Maybe I'll market a beverage called "Steady", that way they have something to waste money on between their energy drinks & relaxation drinks. Report
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